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D Now, Inc. v. TPF Toys Ltd.

United States District Court, N.D. California

July 18, 2017

D NOW, INC., Plaintiff,
v.
TPF TOYS LIMITED, et al., Defendants.

          ORDER GRANTING DEFENDANT'S MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT OF INVALIDITY RE: DKT. NO. 65

          NATHANAEL M. COUSINS United States Magistrate Judge.

         Defendant TPF Toys Limited moves for summary judgment of this patent dispute in which plaintiff D Now, Inc. alleges TPF infringed a patent for a bubble blower tube. TPF cites clear and convincing evidence that the claimed invention was obvious in light of the prior art, so the patent is invalid. The Court GRANTS TPF's motion for summary judgment.

         I. BACKGROUND

         A. Procedural History

         D Now holds the exclusive license to U.S. Patent No. 8, 795, 020 for a “bubble blower tube.” ‘020 Patent, at [54] (filed Jan. 8, 2013); Dkt. No. 1 at 3. The tube is a component of D Now's Uncle Bubble Ultra Bouncing Bubble toy set. Dkt. No. 1 at 4. D Now sued TPF, claiming the bubble blower tube in TPF's Paddle Bubble toy set infringes the ‘020 Patent. Dkt. No. 1. TPF moved for summary judgment, challenging the ‘020 Patent's validity on the basis the invention was obvious. Dkt. No. 65; See 35 U.S.C. § 103. This Court has federal question jurisdiction pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §§ 1331 and 1338(a). Both parties have consented to the jurisdiction of a magistrate judge pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(c)(1). Dkt. Nos. 9, 17.

         B. The ‘020 Patent

         The ‘020 Patent comprises four principal limitations: (1) a tube structure, including the bubble fluid reservoir; (2) a check valve inside the tube separating the bubble blowing end from the bubble forming end; (3) a grooved bubble fluid retaining ring at the end of the bubble forming tube with the grooves extending vertically around the inner circumference of the tube; and (4) an annular stop flange encircling the tube at the bubble forming end. ‘020 Patent; Dkt. No.1-1 at 2-10. See the illustrations below.

         (Image Omitted.)‘020 Patent figs.1, 3 (numbers corresponding to embodiment have been removed).

         The ‘020 Patent purports to address several problems with previous bubble blower tubes. The invention attempts to: (1) prevent bubble fluid or (2) air from flowing back through the tube; (3) hold sufficient bubble fluid so as not to limit the quality of the bubbles; and (4) prevent bubble fluid from dripping down the outside of the tube onto the user. ‘020 Patent. In particular, the ‘020 Patent's main objective is “to provide a bubble blower tube, which prevents reverse flowing of air or bubble fluid.” Id. col.1 l.42-44.

         The four limitations address these concerns: (1) “The bubble fluid that flows downwardly along the inner perimeter of the bubble-forming end will be accumulated in the fluid storage chamber and prohibited from entering the outlet and mouthpiece of the blower tube.” Id. col.3 l.16-19. (2) The check valve prohibits the “flowing of air or bubble fluid from the outlet toward the mouthpiece.” Id. col.1 l.46-49. (3) The outer and inner grooved bubble fluid retaining part “enhances the bubble fluid retaining ability and storage capacity of the bubble blower tube, increasing the rate and volume of bubble formation.” Id. col.1 l.56-60. (4) “The bubble fluid that flows downwardly along the outer perimeter of the bubble-forming end will be stopped at the annular stop flange.” Id. col.3 l.11-15.

         II. LEGAL STANDARD

         Summary judgment is proper where “the movant shows there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). A genuine dispute of material fact exists where the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could find for the non-movant. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986). When reviewing the evidence, this Court must view the evidence in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party. Adickes v. S.H. Kress & Co., 398 U.S. 144, 156 (1970).

         A party attacking a patent's validity has the burden of proving invalidity by clear and convincing evidence. Microsoft Corp. v. i4i Ltd. P'ship, 564 U.S. 91, 97 (2011). A patent is invalid if “the differences between the claimed invention and the prior art are such that the claimed invention as a whole would have been obvious . . . to a person having ordinary skill in the art.” 35 U.S.C. § 103.

         III. ...


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